Nursing School Requirements for Prospective Students

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Written by Morganne Skinner, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Nurses studying for nursing school

Nurses are consistently ranked number one among the most trusted professions. Practicing as a nurse requires an artful combination of skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics.

Some of you may already know without a doubt you want to be a part of this trusted profession, whereas others may want to find out how to get into nursing school before making a decision. Whichever camp you fall in, relax. We’ll take the complication out of nursing school requirements and make it easy to understand.

What Are Nursing School Requirements?

One of the beauties of nursing is all the opportunities at your fingertips, and this begins with your nursing school choices. Because you have so many options — degree, school, location — you’ll also have varying prerequisites.

Generally speaking, your prerequisite courses for an associate degree in nursing (ADN) program will be similar to those of a bachelor degree in nursing (BSN) program. As both programs prepare you to become a registered nurse (RN), both will provide the foundational knowledge you need.

Other requirements, like a criminal background check, will likely be consistent among program types because all require clinical rotations and the ability to work in facilities with specific background requirements.

That said, there are some differences. We’ve broken the requirements down based on whether you pursue an ADN or BSN program.

ADN Program Requirements

An associate degree in nursing is a two-year program that prepares you to be a registered nurse. It involves coursework, labwork, and clinical rotations.

Program Requirements

Depending on the program you choose, your specific nursing school requirements may differ. For example, your ADN program may allow you to complete required classes alongside your nursing classes, as long as you complete them by graduation.

What you’ll need:

High school diploma or GED: Most programs require a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

High school or college courses: Common required classes include chemistry, biology, math, english, and nutrition. Some schools may require a passing grade of a C or higher. Other schools may place a timeline on when these classes were completed, such as within the past five years.

Pre-entrance exam: Some schools require a test to get into nursing school, like theTEAS or PAX exam. These tests are similar to the SAT or ACT; they test a student’s general knowledge. Passing this exam ensures that a student is prepared and ready to enter a nursing program.

Criminal background check: Many schools require completing a criminal background check before you can be accepted into the nursing school. The main reason for this is to ensure that patients are kept safe when you are caring for them in your clinical rotations.

Drug screening: This is often required for similar reasons as the background check — to ensure patient safety during clinical rotations.

BSN Program Requirements

A bachelor of science in nursing is a four-year program that prepares you to be a registered nurse. Like the ADN program, it will require a combination of coursework, labwork, and clinical rotations. Your nursing school requirements for a BSN program will include many of those from the ADN program.

Program Requirements

Some of these requirements may be university-wide, such as a written communications class. Others are specifically nursing school requirements, such as anatomy and physiology.

When selecting your program, be sure to learn about both the university prerequisites and nursing school prerequisites, as you will have to pass all classes in order to graduate.

What you’ll need:

High school diploma or GED: Most schools require a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Some universities may be more strict and require two years of general college education before acceptance into their BSN program.

College-level courses: Common classes include anatomy and physiology I and II (with lab), microbiology (with lab), statistics, psychology, chemistry, nutrition, biology, and written communications.

You may also see criteria that require you to pass these courses with C or higher.

Entrance exams: Just like with ADN programs, entrance exams such as the TEAS may be required.

Essay: Many schools require you to write a personal statement in order to be accepted into the nursing program. Some programs are especially competitive — this essay is your chance to stand out.

Letters of recommendation: Usually three letters are required from past teachers or employers. Some schools will also allow personal recommendations.

Criminal background check: You will be caring for patients during your clinical rotations. This background check ensures you are trustworthy and patients will be safe.

Drug testing: A drug test may also be required for similar reasons as the background check.

Other Requirements

Depending on the route you choose, you may also encounter these other requirements. Some may be required before starting your program, before clinical rotations, or before graduation.

  • Vaccinations
  • CPR certification

How to Get Started

The first step is to graduate from high school or complete a GED. Then, start researching programs and see what their particular nursing school requirements are.

Reach out to a program advisor for specific questions and tips about how to get accepted into nursing school.

Do I Need Healthcare Experience to Be Accepted into Nursing School?

Absolutely not. You do not need to have any type of healthcare or nursing experience to be accepted into nursing school.

If finances are a concern, learn the options for paying for nursing school that are available to you.

What Can I Do After Graduation?

After you get all the nursing school requirements in order and you pass nursing school, you will be ready to take the NCLEX exam. Passing this test will give you your long-awaited nursing license!

You probably got an idea of where you want to work during your clinical rotations. If not, that’s totally okay. You’re going to have so many options. Want help finding the right job? See how IntelyCare can help you create a manageable work schedule.